Wine Reviews: Spring Selections from California

Posted by | Posted in Wine Reviews | Posted on 05-07-2022

Happy Saturday to you all, and happy Mother’s Day to all the moms. It’s a mid-Spring weekend here on the east coast, with plenty of rain. But I’m excited to get out in the woods in a few days to explore some more wildflowers and mushrooms. To pair with any morels I may find (which likely won’t amount to much), I’ve got a bunch of new California wines.

Some of these are from producers I’ve known and enjoyed for a while, like the reliably exciting Chardonnays and Pinots from Sonoma’s Gary Farrell, and the value-driven and delicious wines from The Paring. But some of these are new to me, like Titus from Napa. Ancient Peaks delivers some vibrant Paso Robles wines into the mix as well. And I was excited to taste a wine grape/apple blend that I received. Kivel Stadt cellars’ Gravignon Blanc is a 50/50 co-ferment of Sauv Blanc and Gravenstein apples, and it is just delightful. Winemaker Sam Baron created this lower-alcohol, bright and zesty concoction from Alexander Valley fruit that brings a ton of Spring-y goodness – definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something new.

These wines were received as trade samples and tasted sighted.

2021 Ancient Peaks Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch
SRP: $ 18
Pale straw color. Aromas of lemon, guava and pineapple, along with sliced jalapeno, sea salt and honeysuckle. The palate shows a nice mix of creamy and zesty appeal, the lemon and guava fruit is delicious. And I get some interesting tones of talc, floral perfume, sliced cucumber, orange blossom, with some stony, river rock elements. Delightful, fresh, complex stuff, and a serious value. (90 points IJB)

2021 Ancient Peaks Chardonnay Margarita Vineyard – USA, California, Central Coast, Paso Robles Santa Margarita Ranch
SRP: $19
Pretty yellow color. Peachy and bright on the nose with lemon zest, cucumbers, sea salt, whipped honey. The palate is zippy and fresh with bright acidity, moderate texture, and lemons, green apple and white peach. Light, crisp and fun with floral, flinty tones. 13.5%, mostly stainless steel, a vibrant and fun style. (87 points IJB)

2021 Titus Sauvignon Blanc USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $36
Pale lemon color. Nose of white peach, lemons, pineapple, with white and yellow flowers, chalk dust, sliced green bell pepper. Crisp and salty, creamy and full-bodied but nervy, with pineapple, kiwi and white peach fruit. The tones of whipped honey, orange marmalade and white tea add complexity. Nice leesy texture but stays crisp and elegant. Includes 4% Viognier, aged in old French oak. (89 points IJB)

2021 Titus Cabernet Franc – USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $60
Deep purple color. Tart but deep cherries and plums on the nose, a vibrant core of fruit mixed with lavender, pepper, eucalyptus, black tea. On the palate, this was suave but firm with moderate acidity, it has so much spicy, saucy, pleasantly floral and herbal vibes. The blackberry and tangy currant fruit mix well with these pepperoni, black tea and anise tones. A lot of fun, and I would love to see this in five years. Includes 7% Malbec, 7% Cab Sauv aged 20 months in 65% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

2019 Titus Cabernet Sauvignon – USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $65
Deep purple color. The nose pops with currants and plums, along with tar, violets, coffee, some spicy pepper, menthol and potpourri tones. Nice chewy feel on the palate with smooth tannins and moderating acidity. The plum sauce and cherry pie fruit is deep and juicy and mixed with elements of dark chocolate, clove, toffee, some mocha and leafy, earthy tones as well. Ripe and fun but lively as well. Includes a combined 19% Petit Verdot, Malbec and Merlot, aged 20 months in 60% new French and Hungarian oak. (90 points IJB)

2019 Titus Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve Family Estate – USA, California, Napa Valley
SRP: $115
Dark purple color. The nose exudes deep currants with a lot of charcoal, mint, leather, tar and mocha elements – a lot to parse through. Juicy on the palate with a chewy core of tannins and tangy currants and plum sauce. Medium acidity makes this fresh, while the notes of tar, anise, leather and dark chocolate pour through. Deep and fun but also fresh – really enjoyable. This will show well in three or four years. Includes 5% Petit Verdot and aged 22 months in 100% new French oak. (91 points IJB)

N.V. KivelStadt Cellars KC Labs Gravignon Blanc – USA, California, North Coast, Napa / Sonoma
SRP: $27
Light yellow color. So peachy keen on the nose, a delight to sniff, with these dandelion, honeysuckle, magnolia flower elements – as springy and delightful as it gets. The palate shows a crisp and bright appeal with zesty acidity and crunchy fruit (green and yellow apples, kiwi). It’s all wrapped up nicely with these accents of wildflowers and spring meadow breeze. Has a flinty, zesty, light appeal, but it sports quite a bit of complexity as well. Check this out! (90 points IJB)

2019 Gary Farrell Chardonnay Olivet Lane Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $50
Lively yellow color. Waves of nougat, popcorn and honey on the nose, but also these vibrant tones of chalk dust and limestone, over green and yellow apples and apricot fruit. The palate shows such creamy, deep texture, but the acidity is so refreshing, and the balance is pristine. The yellow apple and kiwi fruit is bright and juicy, and mixed with elements of peanut, nougat, hay, yellow flowers. Underneath and pervading it all is this stony, mountain stream minerality that lingers long on the finish. Delightful stuff that will age well. Aged 9 months in 35% new French oak. A whole lot of Sonoma Chardonnay class for the price here, and this will age nicely. (93 points IJB)

2018 Gary Farrell Pinot Noir Hallberg Vineyard – USA, California, Sonoma County, Russian River Valley
SRP: $55
Vibrant ruby color. So lively on the nose with rose petals, spiced tea, rhubarb, over top of cranberry relish, red apple peel and cranberry sauce. On the palate, this wine is airy and floral with a tart core of raspberries, cranberries and red currants. The tannins provide structure but have rounded edges, and the balance with the acidity is delightful. The complexity of the floral, spice, herbal tones is really special here – I’m getting oregano, pepper, rose petals, anise. So pretty and airy, yet I think this will show a lot more in five years or so. Really special. Aged 15 months in 40% new French oak. (93 points IJB)

2020 The Paring Sauvignon Blanc – USA, California, Central Coast, Santa Ynez Valley
SRP: $25
Light yellow color. Aromas of peaches, limes and lemons, with honey, flowers, chalk dust, spiced white tea – a lot going on. Creamy texture on the palate, zesty and bright with a flinty vibe. Limes, kiwi and white peach fruit blend well with fresh flowers, white pepper, honey, some basil. Fresh and lively but has a lot of textural depth and complexity. (89 points IJB)

2017 The Paring Red Wine – USA, California
SRP: $25
Ripe purple color. Love the nose, with blackberries, black cherries, laced with pepper, black tea, tobacco and scorched earth. Full but fresh on the palate with smooth, chewy tannins and a balanced acidity. Blackberry and plum compote fruit, deep but tangy, this wine is packed with interesting elements of roasted red pepper, tilled soil, charcoal, leather. Notes of flinty, mineral, graphite linger underneath. The level of complexity and concentration is pretty cool. 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Cabernet Franc, 20% Merlot, 10% Petit Verdot. (90 points IJB)

Comments (1)

  1. very informative post. thanks for sharing